Holy Week–Wednesday

Grass

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work–
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

–Carl Sandburg

Comments

  1. Oh, I love this poem. It’s so ambiguous and so fantastic to read out loud.

  2. At the end of WWII the Russians attempted to obliterate or remove anyone and anything German in the small formerly German towns now in Poland. My parents, my husband and I visited the one which had been home to my mother’s grandfather before he emigrated to the US in the 1890’s. We could find not even an old cemetery without the help of the local priest. Father Joseph kindly led us to a lilac enclosed grassy field. Only an inch or two of a few headstones poked through the grass. But the Spirit bore witness of sacred ground. Nothing since has refreshed that memory more than this poem. Thanks, Kristine.

  3. Kristine says:

    Norbert, I like the ambiguity of the poem, too. Grass as new life, regeneration, but not entirely innocent of the soil’s dark richness.

    Molly, even as a 13-year-old kid when we lived in Germany, I had a sense of the landscape being haunted, scarred by the two world wars. It is terrible and beautiful, and yes, sacred.

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